Is your landscaping interesting throughout the year? If not, you may be lacking the elements that create year-round interest.
They are referred to as the “bones” of the garden, and they add color and structure to catch the eye. Winter in Kansas City can be bleak. Shades of brown and tan are beautiful in panoramic views like the Flint Hills. But they can be monochromatic and dull in smaller spaces like your home landscape and increase our winter blues.
Adding bones can be accomplished by dotting the landscape with evergreens. Their pop of color and natural growth structure help create interest and play off the subdued winter landscape.
Landscaping around the home entrance should be at least one-third evergreen. This basic rule can also be applied throughout the entire garden: It allows enough space for other plants and flowers to contribute variety in spring, summer and fall. Too many evergreens don’t leave room for change, making the landscape seem static.
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But evergreens are not just green. Shades of blue-gray may be found in spruces, and yellow-golds are common in junipers or false cypress. Adding a variety of color increases the dramatic effect of the winter bones.
Form and texture can also help add winter interest. Plant evergreens with varying habits: spreading, upright, weeping or rounded. Weeping or columnar forms create strong accents that catch the eye.
Bones are year-round focal points, and it is important for them to shine from many angles. Group or mass them to soften the home or draw attention to the front door.
In the backyard, plant in masses or use them as accents. Groupings of evergreen trees can add beauty as well as function as a windbreak or screen. Accents are created by placing a single plant in a prime location that helps pull the landscape together, causing the eye to stop and linger. Mixing in ornamental grasses can also contribute to the bones of a winter landscape.
Stand in your house and look out. Do you see a winter scene that holds your attention? Well-placed bones should be visible from several windows. Let your eyes and mind wander, and you will quickly know where the bones should find a place in your garden.
Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with the Kansas State University Research and Extension. To get your gardening questions answered on The Star's KC Gardens blog by university extension experts, go to KCGardens.KansasCity.com.